St Helens
Knowsley Road




Ground No. 1
Visited - Saturday 20th May 2006
Result - St Helens 42-18 Bradford Bulls
Competition - Challenge Cup
Attendance - 10,374

With the football season over, the thought of sitting around for the next few months with no grounds to visit wasn’t a particularly pleasant one! It had taken me just one free weekend to get bored, so I decided to switch my attention to Rugby, and in particular Rugby League.

Living in the West Midlands, the chance to see rugby at a relatively decent level isn’t easy with the nearest big teams a good 30-40 miles away. Even then it would be Rugby Union, which is a sport that quite frankly bores the hell out of me, however League had caught my attention as being a far more exciting variation of the game, so after looking at the fixtures, I settled on St Helens Challenge Cup home tie to Bradford Bulls as being a game worth watching, and in Knowsley Road, a ground certainly worth visiting.

Setting off at about 10am, the journey northwards went well, with the train being straight through to Wigan, where there was a short change for another train onwards to St Helens, arriving in good time just after midday.

Once in the town, I had been in two minds as to whether to go straight to the ground, but decided to have a look round and find somewhere for a drink first, before making the short walk to Knowsley Road, arriving at 1:45pm with an hour spare to kick-off.

On first sights, thanks to surrounding houses, the ground is difficult to spot until you are virtually next to it. Once there though you are greeted with a ‘less than modern’ scene, with the rear of the Main Stand being a typical 1950’s grandstand, with a nice (if not spectacular) looking brick exterior. With not much else to see I went in, up the walkway which cut through the bank that the Edington Stand had been built on, and in through the corner to be greeted by a sight that would warm the heart of any stadium enthusiast.

In the age of the modern, all-seated super stadiums, grounds like Knowsley Road are normally grilled, however I loved it! The end which I had come in was the Edington Stand, which was a large terrace, with room for a good 5000 or so, under the cover of a large, pitched roof. To the right was the Popular Side, which again was another classic looking stand, being a good sized terrace that was fully covered and running the full length of the pitch. The Pavilion End opposite did somewhat let the ground down, being a small uncovered terrace, but on the final side was the Main Stand, which had more terracing running the length of the pitch, with a raised tier of seating above that. It might not have met the approval of many, but I liked it!

After taking enough pictures, I eventually found a place to stand at the rear of the Popular Side, before the game kicked off at 2:45pm.

With St Helens being top of the league, they were hot favourites to win, but Bradford were by no means pushovers, and this being the cup, anything could happen! The visitors kicked off, and within 90 seconds had fallen behind after Keiron Cunningham just made the line, with his effort being converted by Jamie Lyon. Lyon put Saints 8-0 up with a penalty kick, before Paul Sculthorpe was denied a try by the video ref. It didn’t take the hosts much longer to make it 14-0 thanks to an easy try by Paul Wellens who danced through the Bradford lines before touching down under the posts. Lee Gilmour was the next Saints player afforded all the time he wanted when he raced over unchecked, before Jamie Lyon’s conversion made it 20-0. It took a mistake from the home side before Bradford eventually got their first try of the afternoon on 34 minutes. Paul Sculthorpe dropped the ball just a few meters from the line, which allowed Joe Vagana to pick it up and smash his way over. Paul Deacon converted, but it was St Helens next to score, when Jamie Lyon was the benefactor of more sloppy Bradford defending after he kicked the ball over the line, dropping on it just before the dead ball line. Lyon converted to given the home team a half time lead of 26-6.

In the second half it was much the same as the first, with Saints dominating. Fozzard and Cunningham put them 38-6 up, before Willie Talau made it 42-6 in the 69th minute. Paul Sculthorpe took the conversion kick, but unfortunately missed it from a difficult angle. There was time left for Bradford to get a couple of consolations, firstly after a clever kick from Shontayne Hape which allowed Michael Withers to race clear, before Withers again grabbed his second of the afternoon after more lax defending from the home team. Deacon had two easy conversions to make the final score 42-18.

After leaving the ground, it didn’t take long to walk back to town, before catching the train homewards, changing in Wigan again, before getting back just after 7pm.

Overall, it was a good day out. Being the first Rugby game that I’d actually ever been to, I did quite enjoy it, and it certainly won’t be my last! The ground is a real classic, and although it’s probably won’t be around for much longer, personally I loved it, certainly more than the bland, all-seated modern grounds that are supposed to be so much better.





Welcome to Knowsley Road


Rear of the Main Stand


Rear of the Main Stand


Rear of the Edington Stand


Pathway up to the Edington Stand


The Pavilion End


The Popular Side


The Edington Stand


The Main Stand


The Popular Side


The Edington Stand


The Main Stand


The Pavilion End



Knowsley Road Panoramic



  


1 comment:

  1. Great read! Would you happen to provide these photos for private use? I'm working on project and would love to use them if possible.

    ReplyDelete